Recently I went hunting with my 12 year old son and my brother. It was an amazing trip in the high desert of Southeastern New Mexico. The morning was cool and the sky was big and blue. The area of land I chose was perfect for deer. There was water, plenty of grass to bed down in, and lots of food for them. In fact, had we seen any deer I might have had a successful hunt. It was not a total bust though. I had a great time hanging out with my son and brother.

On one part of the hunt we took my jeep into a pretty remote area. There was a “road” that had not seen travel in years. My hope was that we would see some evidence of deer and be able to track them. There was nothing. We took the time to check out some little water holes (puddles really), to look at some extremely large grasshoppers, and take some pictures.

My brother noticed a very fat looking cactus. He asked my son if he knew why the cactus was so thick. My son responded that it was probably because it was full of water. My brother then proceeded to tell my son how if we ran out of water we could drink it from the cactus.

My son responded by saying “Actually, that’s not true. The water from cacti is poisonous.”

Wait what?

This got my brother and I asking my son lots of questions. Mainly how he knows this, and questioning whether he was correct. He had some pretty convincing reasons for thinking it was poisonous. I’m not sure if school, or Boy Scouts, is to thank for his knowledge. My brother did some research when we got back. It turns out my son was partly correct.

Most cactus water is not necessarily poisonous but our bodies do have to process out contaminants. It can make you sick with nausea and give you the runs. If you are already dehydrated this will definitely not help your situation, and will most likely make matters worse.

I got a smart kid. And he saved his uncle from the runs.

The idea of getting water from a cactus comes from movies and TV shows that we watch. And while there are some cacti that you can drink from, most will not provide water like we are lead to believe.

What does this have to do with self-defense?

It reminded me of the many conversations I have had with people that saw something on TV and took it as truth. Things like the walls in your house stop bullets, I learned a knife disarm so now I’m ready if I get attacked by someone with a knife, or I’ll just use pressure points in a street fight. All these examples have been done in movies and worked using Hollywood magic.

If I am ever attacked in a movie I will use a “double-dutch-rear-spinning-hook-kick-thingy”. If I am ever attached in real life I want something more concrete to use. Do not trust “As Seen On TV” moves. Trust what you know to work: simple techniques that use gross motor movements that can be repeated over and over again and that work when applying it full speed and with full force.

That is what FAST Defense teaches.